New The Kills' Clip Recalls Billy Idol's Cocaine & Plastic Surgery Years

3 March 2016 | 12:44 pm | Ross Clelland

"'Doing It To Death' slinks along on its own pose of ennui, complete with handy sex and cemetery imagery..."

The Kills

The Kills

Customers, let us reveal another of the great secrets of rock and/or roll: it can take a helluva lot of effort to look like you’re not giving a fuck. Sometimes you’ve gotta work really hard to look disinterested.

Case in point, The Kills. Already well in front by having the sheer presence of Alison Mosshart looking down her nose at you, Jamie Hince then doubled down by marrying that ultimate rock accessory Kate Moss. Doing It To Death (Domino) slinks along on its own pose of ennui, complete with handy sex and cemetery imagery – although the choreography of dancing hipster-hatted pallbearers might be taking us a little too far toward Billy Idol’s cocaine-and-plastic surgery years. It’s actually quite sinewy in its way, but it could be the visuals distracting from the actual quality of it. 

To prove your nonchalance, you might even go as far as calling your band The I Don’t Cares. But even that’s a fair moniker when the members of this probably-met-in-a-hip-bar-in-Seattle collaboration include the glorious mess that is Paul Westerberg – do I have to put ‘The Replacements’ brackets here? – falling into slacker darling Juliana Hatfield, whose creative dalliance with the god of offhandedness Evan Dando even now still lends her a credibility when she merely shrugs her shoulders. Even the title of Whole Lotta Nothin’ (Dry Wood) seems to reinforce the slouch – even in the spelling and grammar. But then it all spills out in a too-easy jangle and yell, and you can but smile. Even if you’re squinting trying to focus on the lo-fi, lo-res, shot-on-an-early-model-iPhone video. 

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Meanwhile in Brisbane, you can be scruffy and frayed as your flanno but still appear to putting in with some energy. You gotta love Walken, if for nothing else than calling their current tour “Keepin’ It Flaccid”, before you even get to the ragged charms of Eagle Eye (Weiner). Goes alright, even as the smoke swirls around them, which you might think is either coming from the bonfire in a rusty 44-gallon drum or the bucket bong flaring in the corner – until the guy with the cheap-arse fog machine stumbles into shot a couple of times. And that even adds to the shambling goodness of it. 

Let us veer slightly from the perhaps careless to things of a more rustic but thoughtful nature. Jordie Lane gets a bit biographical and historical through Frederick Steele McNeil Ferguson (Blood Thinner). He observes the generations affectionately, thankfully without becoming a Tenterfield Saddler for the generations of the family on Facebook. But you might not even notice the unfurling story as the hair clipping of the clip really becomes quite hypnotic. And just a bit creepy.

There is something hand-hewn but crafted about what April Family do. Kylie Whitney’s croon and keen is cradled by carefully placed layers of guitars, banjo, and other stuff that place 1943 (Big Radio) somewhere along a line from Laurel Canyon 1974 to alt-country/Americana of about now. But then consider it was constructed in the backwoods of Annandale in Sydney’s inner-west, and it’s probably more correctly called ‘Australicana’, although the subject matter might even add ‘Germanicana’ to the list of desperately invented musical genres. Whatever, it’s a woody thing of feeling and emotion – and simply damn good. 

Around the turn of the decade Mexico City – of Brisbane, just to add to the last few sentences of geographical confusion – seem to be on the verge of something. But then it takes six years to get to their next thing. Apparently there’s three marriages, seven kids, and losing a bass player in that period – so maybe it was just a matter of real life getting in the way, as it often does. When The Day Goes Dark (+1 Records) does have the unease and suspicious glance in your direction you may have got as you entered the bar in the Albert Camus story from where the band got its name, but there’s also the feeling of a faded weatherboard federation cottage from same neighbourhood as say The Triffids or Go-Betweens to give them a spirit of place.

So many drummers are apparently frustrated songwriters. Add to the list Kit Warhurst, of the much fabled Rocket Science, who has picked up the guitar, taken a few cues from The Strokes and other things of guitar-based nature, and delivers Rose Red City (Independent). Song seems to take a few moments to find where it actually wants to go, but when it does all kick in it motors along quite handsomely. The energy he displayed behind the, er, ‘kit of Kit’ is in this, and there’s a confidence that he really does knows what he’s doing. Album to follow, maybe worth further investigation.

Changing their default just slightly, Parquet Courts go for a slightly more open, slightly more grumpy approach as Berlin Got Blurry (Rough Trade/Remote Control). Andrew Savage’s usual clenched restraint changes gears slightly as he muses on a relationship going to hell from a distance. It’s a man spiritually - and geographically - lost. Despite the neon streets travelogue conceit of the video, and an almost perverse surf guitar line, it kinda feels like they have lost some of the pretention that could distance them from an audience. Let’s see how this new way goes.